Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing

Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing

Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing By Rebecca Rosman • 1 hour ago Boman Kohinoor, 97, has spent the last eight decades committed to his beloved Britannia and Co, one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafés. Here, he proudly holds up a photo of himself with two members of the British royal family: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and the former Kate Middleton. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
The brown walls are peeling at all ends. Giant paint chips cake the ceiling. And the cash register — if you can call it that — is just a series of old wooden drawers.
“I’m going to put up a sign that says enter at your own risk, otherwise someone is going to hold me liable,” says Romin Kohinoor, one of the owners of the nearly century-oldBritannia and Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafés.
Luckily for Kohinoor, these quirky interiors have long been seen as more of an attraction than a liability.
Parsi cafés like Britannia and Co. started popping up around Mumbai in the late 19th century. They were founded by Parsis — Zoroastrians who fled religious persecution in their native Persia. But they became popular among many in India because, in a society where caste systems and longstanding taboos remain omnipresent, these cafes offered a place where various parts of Indian society mingled freely.
They are, in a word, cosmopolitan. They are also, in two words, dying out.
One of the world’s oldest religions, Zoroastrianism began thousands of years ago in what is now Iran and pre-dates Islam. A central ethical tenet of the faith is to promote “good words, good thoughts and good deeds.” The Zoroastrian migrants brought to India not only their religious traditions but also their unique cuisine, offering a table to people of all classes, religions and ethnicities in an atmosphere scented with Iranian and Gujarati spices. Parsi cafes are emblems of tolerance, a core teaching of the prophet Zoroaster, and their affordable food and snug tables attest to their place as servers of the common man.
At one point, there were around 400 Parsi cafés scattered across Mumbai. Today, there are less than 40.
A dwindling Parsi population, combined with little interest from newer generations to take over these family-owned businesses, means that there may not be any Parsi cafés in just a few decades.
But Britannia and Co. has a secret to standing strong amidst a sea of dying neighbors: the 97-year-old owner, Boman Kohinoor, who has spent the last eight decades committed to his beloved café. On one wall of Britannia and Co. is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Next to her is a painting of Gandhi. Each serves as a reminder of the café’s unique cultural heritage. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
“They say habit is second nature,” the bespectacled owner tells me over a generous plate of chicken berry pulao, the restaurant’s signature dish. “And habit has kept me coming here every day now for the last 80 years.”
Every day during the busy lunch hour, Kohinoor slowly makes his way around each table to partake in one of his favorite activities: schmoozing. Current favorite topics include the British monarchy, U.S. politics and his longevity plans. (He plans on breaking the Guinness World Record for oldest living person.)
India was still under British rule when Kohinoor’s father opened the café in 1923, which inspired the café’s name. “My father wanted to please the local commissioner, who was handing out leases at the time,” says Kohinoor.
When the restaurant opened, the menu consisted mostly of lighter, European fare. It wasn’t until after independence from the British in 1947 that Kohinoor decided to revamp the menu, adding in a slew of Iranian comfort food options that have since become the favorites here — dishes like Sali Boti , a lamb curry stewed with tomatoes, jaggery and onions, topped with fried potato strings.
Or the chicken berry pulao — moist chunks of chicken cooked in a fragrant tomato sauce, mixed with a rice pilaf and garnished with Iranian sour barberries. Downed with a fresh lime soda and crème caramel, it’s hard not to indulge.
Most items on the menu today follow the original recipes of Kohinoor’s late wife, Bacha — and they remain a fiercely guarded secret.
A small black and white photo of Bacha hangs on the wall alongside the restaurant’s entrance. On the other side of the room is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, next to a painting of Gandhi. Several depictions of the Prophet Zoroaster, cloaked in white robes, are also on display. Each serves as a reminder of the café’s unique cultural heritage. Chicken berry pulao is the signature dish at Britannia and Co. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
Zoroastrians started arriving in India around 1,300 years ago to escape religious persecution from Arab invaders in their native Persia. By the mid-20th century, there were around 120,000 Parsis living in India. Today there are less than half that. Zoroastrians don’t believe in conversion, making it hard to keep the religion alive.
But the more immediate problem for families like Kohinoor’s is a generational one.
Younger generations don’t want to inherit the long hours — and the risk of low returns — that come with running a restaurant.
“I’m only doing this for my dad,” admits Kohinoor’s 58-year-old son Romin, who has been working the register at Britannia and Co. for four decades. “He doesn’t want to close this place down. He doesn’t want to sell it at all.”
Romin has a 27-year-old daughter, Diana, who comes in at the end of each day to do the restaurant’s books.
She was studying law at university, but didn’t really like it.
Now, “I would not want it to end because of me. So let’s take it forward,” she says.
But with her grandfather still going strong, her promotion from accountant to owner may be a while. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org. © 2019 WVXU

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Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing

by : Rebecca Rosman
The brown walls are peeling at all ends. Giant paint chips cake the ceiling. And the cash register — if you can call it that — is just a series of old wooden drawers.
“I’m going to put up a sign that says ‘Enter at your own risk.’ Otherwise someone is going to hold me liable,” says Romin Kohinoor, one of the owners of the nearly century-oldBritannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes.
Luckily for Kohinoor, these quirky interiors have long been seen as more of an attraction than a liability.
Parsi cafes like Britannia & Co. started popping up around Mumbai in the late 19th century. They were founded by Parsis — Zoroastrians who fled religious persecution in their native Persia. The cafes became popular among many in India because, in a society where caste systems and long-standing taboos remain omnipresent, these cafes offered a place where various parts of Indian society mingled freely.
They are, in a word, cosmopolitan. They are also, in two words, dying out.
One of the world’s oldest religions, Zoroastrianism began thousands of years ago in what is now Iran, and the faith predates Islam. A central ethical tenet of the faith is to promote “good words, good thoughts and good deeds.” The Zoroastrian migrants brought to India not only their religious traditions but also their unique cuisine, offering a table to people of all classes, religions and ethnicities in an atmosphere scented with Iranian and Gujarati spices. Parsi cafes are emblems of tolerance, a core teaching of the Prophet Zoroaster, and their affordable food and snug tables attest to their place as servers of the common man. Support comes from
At one point, there were around 400 Parsi cafes scattered across Mumbai. Today, there are less than 40.
A dwindling Parsi population, combined with little interest from newer generations to take over these family-owned businesses, means that there may not be any Parsi cafes in just a few decades.
But Britannia & Co. has a secret to standing strong amid a sea of dying neighbors: the 97-year-old owner, Boman Kohinoor, who has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved cafe.
“They say habit is second nature,” the bespectacled owner tells me over a generous plate of chicken berry pulao, the restaurant’s signature dish. “And habit has kept me coming here every day now for the last 80 years.”
Every day during the busy lunch hour, Kohinoor slowly makes his way around each table to partake in one of his favorite activities: schmoozing. Current favorite topics include the British monarchy, U.S. politics and his longevity plans. (He plans on breaking the Guinness World Record for oldest living person.)
India was still under British rule when Kohinoor’s father opened the cafe in 1923, which inspired the cafe’s name. “My father wanted to please the local commissioner, who was handing out leases at the time,” says Kohinoor.
When the restaurant opened, the menu consisted mostly of lighter European fare. It wasn’t until after independence from the British in 1947 that Kohinoor decided to revamp the menu, adding a slew of Iranian comfort food options that have since become the favorites here — dishes like sali boti, a lamb curry stewed with tomatoes, jaggery and onions and topped with fried potato strings.
Or the chicken berry pulao — moist chunks of chicken cooked in a fragrant tomato sauce, mixed with a rice pilaf and garnished with Iranian sour barberries. Downed with a fresh lime soda and crème caramel, it’s hard not to indulge.
Most items on the menu today follow the original recipes of Kohinoor’s late wife, Bacha — and they remain a fiercely guarded secret.
A small black-and-white photo of Bacha hangs on the wall alongside the restaurant’s entrance. On the other side of the room is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II next to a painting of Gandhi. Several depictions of the Prophet Zoroaster, cloaked in white robes, are also on display. Each serves as a reminder of the cafe’s unique cultural heritage.
Zoroastrians started arriving in India around 1,300 years ago to escape religious persecution from Arab invaders in their native Persia. By the mid-20th century, around 120,000 Parsis lived in India. Today there are less than half that. Zoroastrians don’t believe in conversion, making it hard to keep the religion alive.
But the more immediate problem for families like Kohinoor’s is a generational one.
Younger generations don’t want to inherit the long hours — and the risk of low returns — that come with running a restaurant.
“I’m only doing this for my dad,” admits Kohinoor’s 58-year-old son Romin, who has been working the register at Britannia & Co. for four decades. “He doesn’t want to close this place down. He doesn’t want to sell it at all.”
Romin has a 27-year-old daughter, Diana, who comes in at the end of each day to do the restaurant’s books.
She was studying law at university but didn’t really like it.
Now, “I would not want it to end because of me. So let’s take it forward,” she says.
But with her grandfather still going strong, her promotion from accountant to owner may be a while. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org . More from :

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Cockroaches, pests, other filthy finds at Auckland eateries

Photos of some of what inspectors faced show scum-ridden tabletops and floors in food preparation areas, cockroach-infested floors and mould and grease on walls and counters. Poor cleaning was one of the main issues at Auckland’s E-graded eateries. Photo / Auckland Council Ahmu said the most common reasons for needing to close establishments were poor cleaning and pest control in food preparation areas, leading to a high risk of cross contamination. “In some places we saw cockroaches clearly visible throughout the food preparation areas, so they have clearly lost control of the problem.” This year’s number of poor grades appeared to show a marked difference from last year, when between January and May, a total of 28 places around the city received an E grade, and 42 a D. One of Auckland’s E-graded eateries. Photo / Auckland Council Ahmu said the lower numbers this year were down to a number of factors, including changing over to the Food Safety Act, which meant some eateries not solely based in Auckland could choose to be verified under the Ministry for Primary Industries. There was also a change in focus under the act from solely inspecting the premises to verifying processes and procedures, such as cleaning schedules and labelling. Before the new regulations came into force, council officers spent time explaining them to establishments, which Ahmu said could also be behind improved numbers. When an eatery was inspected depended on how it had performed in the past, and if there was a complaint. The verification process saw those with the lowest grades checked as often as once every three months, while those with consistently high grades could be checked once every 18 months, Ahmu said. E grade – Ghazal Indian Cuisine, Glen Eden, inspected 19/03/2019: Critical risk cleaning, restricted water supply – The Café Helensville, inspected 24/04/2019 : Critical risk defective drainage – Sui Yuan, Mt Albert, inspected 26/04/2019: Critical risk cleaning – Dosa Plaza Metro City, inspected 30/04/2019: Critical risk cleaning, pest infestation – Baab Korean Restaurant, inspected 6/05/2019: Critical risk cleaning, pest infestation – Dosa Plaza, Mt Roskill, inspected 8/05/2019 (new grading pending): Critical risk cleaning – India Bar and Restaurant, Ellerslie, inspected 9/05/2019 (new grading pending): Critical risk cleaning, pest infestation D grades – The Falls Restaurant and Cafe, Henderson, inspected 16/04/2019: Cleaning issues, allergen management – Sushi Factory Japanese Restaurant, Auckland Central, inspected 26/04/2019: Cleaning issues, pest issues – The Grill – Wairau Valley, inspected 26/04/2019: Cleaning issues, pest issues – Indigo Takeaway, Avondale, inspected 1/05/2019: Cleaning issues – Curry Masala, Flatbush, inspected 2/05/2019: Pest issues – Feriza’s, Auckland Central, inspected 2/05/2019: Cleaning issues, pest issues – Matsu Sushi, Auckland Central, inspected 6/05/2019: Cleaning issues, pest issues – Homecooked, Wairau Valley, inspected 10/05/2019: Cleaning issues – Rabbit Café, Eden Terrace, inspected 10/05/2019: Not following plan, temperature control – Tai Ping Supermarket – Pakuranga, inspected 16/05/2019: Labelling issues – Yu Linh Long Factory / Mr. Big Pan, Panmure, inspected 20/05/2019: Cleaning issues Information provided by Auckland Council on May 24 Herald recommends

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Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing

Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing By editor • 3 hours ago Boman Kohinoor, 97, has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved Britannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes. Here, he proudly holds up a photo of himself with two members of the British royal family: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and the former Kate Middleton. Rebecca Rosman for NPR / Originally published on June 2, 2019 11:48 am
The brown walls are peeling at all ends. Giant paint chips cake the ceiling. And the cash register — if you can call it that — is just a series of old wooden drawers.
“I’m going to put up a sign that says ‘Enter at your own risk.’ Otherwise someone is going to hold me liable,” says Romin Kohinoor, one of the owners of the nearly century-oldBritannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes.
Luckily for Kohinoor, these quirky interiors have long been seen as more of an attraction than a liability.
Parsi cafes like Britannia & Co. started popping up around Mumbai in the late 19th century. They were founded by Parsis — Zoroastrians who fled religious persecution in their native Persia. The cafes became popular among many in India because, in a society where caste systems and long-standing taboos remain omnipresent, these cafes offered a place where various parts of Indian society mingled freely.
They are, in a word, cosmopolitan. They are also, in two words, dying out.
One of the world’s oldest religions, Zoroastrianism began thousands of years ago in what is now Iran, and the faith predates Islam. A central ethical tenet of the faith is to promote “good words, good thoughts and good deeds.” The Zoroastrian migrants brought to India not only their religious traditions but also their unique cuisine, offering a table to people of all classes, religions and ethnicities in an atmosphere scented with Iranian and Gujarati spices. Parsi cafes are emblems of tolerance, a core teaching of the prophet Zoroaster, and their affordable food and snug tables attest to their place as servers of the common man.
At one point, there were around 400 Parsi cafes scattered across Mumbai. Today, there are less than 40.
A dwindling Parsi population, combined with little interest from newer generations to take over these family-owned businesses, means that there may not be any Parsi cafes in just a few decades.
But Britannia & Co. has a secret to standing strong amid a sea of dying neighbors: the 97-year-old owner, Boman Kohinoor, who has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved cafe. On one wall of Britannia and Co. is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Next to her is a painting of Gandhi. Each serves as a reminder of the café’s unique cultural heritage. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
“They say habit is second nature,” the bespectacled owner tells me over a generous plate of chicken berry pulao, the restaurant’s signature dish. “And habit has kept me coming here every day now for the last 80 years.”
Every day during the busy lunch hour, Kohinoor slowly makes his way around each table to partake in one of his favorite activities: schmoozing. Current favorite topics include the British monarchy, U.S. politics and his longevity plans. (He plans on breaking the Guinness World Record for oldest living person.)
India was still under British rule when Kohinoor’s father opened the café in 1923, which inspired the café’s name. “My father wanted to please the local commissioner, who was handing out leases at the time,” says Kohinoor.
When the restaurant opened, the menu consisted mostly of lighter, European fare. It wasn’t until after independence from the British in 1947 that Kohinoor decided to revamp the menu, adding in a slew of Iranian comfort food options that have since become the favorites here — dishes like Sali Boti , a lamb curry stewed with tomatoes, jaggery and onions, topped with fried potato strings.
Or the chicken berry pulao — moist chunks of chicken cooked in a fragrant tomato sauce, mixed with a rice pilaf and garnished with Iranian sour barberries. Downed with a fresh lime soda and crème caramel, it’s hard not to indulge.
Most items on the menu today follow the original recipes of Kohinoor’s late wife, Bacha — and they remain a fiercely guarded secret.
A small black and white photo of Bacha hangs on the wall alongside the restaurant’s entrance. On the other side of the room is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, next to a painting of Gandhi. Several depictions of the Prophet Zoroaster, cloaked in white robes, are also on display. Each serves as a reminder of the café’s unique cultural heritage. Chicken berry pulao is the signature dish at Britannia and Co. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
Zoroastrians started arriving in India around 1,300 years ago to escape religious persecution from Arab invaders in their native Persia. By the mid-20th century, there were around 120,000 Parsis living in India. Today there are less than half that. Zoroastrians don’t believe in conversion, making it hard to keep the religion alive.
But the more immediate problem for families like Kohinoor’s is a generational one.
Younger generations don’t want to inherit the long hours — and the risk of low returns — that come with running a restaurant.
“I’m only doing this for my dad,” admits Kohinoor’s 58-year-old son Romin, who has been working the register at Britannia and Co. for four decades. “He doesn’t want to close this place down. He doesn’t want to sell it at all.”
Romin has a 27-year-old daughter, Diana, who comes in at the end of each day to do the restaurant’s books.
She was studying law at university, but didn’t really like it.
Now, “I would not want it to end because of me. So let’s take it forward,” she says.
But with her grandfather still going strong, her promotion from accountant to owner may be a while. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org. © 2019 BPR

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Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing

Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing By Rebecca Rosman • 4 hours ago Boman Kohinoor, 97, has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved Britannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes. Here, he proudly holds up a photo of himself with two members of the British royal family: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and the former Kate Middleton. Rebecca Rosman for NPR / Originally published on June 2, 2019 12:28 pm
The brown walls are peeling at all ends. Giant paint chips cake the ceiling. And the cash register — if you can call it that — is just a series of old wooden drawers.
“I’m going to put up a sign that says ‘Enter at your own risk.’ Otherwise someone is going to hold me liable,” says Romin Kohinoor, one of the owners of the nearly century-oldBritannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes.
Luckily for Kohinoor, these quirky interiors have long been seen as more of an attraction than a liability.
Parsi cafes like Britannia & Co. started popping up around Mumbai in the late 19th century. They were founded by Parsis — Zoroastrians who fled religious persecution in their native Persia. The cafes became popular among many in India because, in a society where caste systems and long-standing taboos remain omnipresent, these cafes offered a place where various parts of Indian society mingled freely.
They are, in a word, cosmopolitan. They are also, in two words, dying out.
One of the world’s oldest religions, Zoroastrianism began thousands of years ago in what is now Iran, and the faith predates Islam. A central ethical tenet of the faith is to promote “good words, good thoughts and good deeds.” The Zoroastrian migrants brought to India not only their religious traditions but also their unique cuisine, offering a table to people of all classes, religions and ethnicities in an atmosphere scented with Iranian and Gujarati spices. Parsi cafes are emblems of tolerance, a core teaching of the Prophet Zoroaster, and their affordable food and snug tables attest to their place as servers of the common man.
At one point, there were around 400 Parsi cafes scattered across Mumbai. Today, there are less than 40.
A dwindling Parsi population, combined with little interest from newer generations to take over these family-owned businesses, means that there may not be any Parsi cafes in just a few decades.
But Britannia & Co. has a secret to standing strong amid a sea of dying neighbors: the 97-year-old owner, Boman Kohinoor, who has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved cafe. On one wall of Britannia & Co. is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Next to her is a painting of Gandhi. Each serves as a reminder of the cafe’s unique cultural heritage. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
“They say habit is second nature,” the bespectacled owner tells me over a generous plate of chicken berry pulao, the restaurant’s signature dish. “And habit has kept me coming here every day now for the last 80 years.”
Every day during the busy lunch hour, Kohinoor slowly makes his way around each table to partake in one of his favorite activities: schmoozing. Current favorite topics include the British monarchy, U.S. politics and his longevity plans. (He plans on breaking the Guinness World Record for oldest living person.)
India was still under British rule when Kohinoor’s father opened the cafe in 1923, which inspired the cafe’s name. “My father wanted to please the local commissioner, who was handing out leases at the time,” says Kohinoor.
When the restaurant opened, the menu consisted mostly of lighter European fare. It wasn’t until after independence from the British in 1947 that Kohinoor decided to revamp the menu, adding a slew of Iranian comfort food options that have since become the favorites here — dishes like sali boti, a lamb curry stewed with tomatoes, jaggery and onions and topped with fried potato strings.
Or the chicken berry pulao — moist chunks of chicken cooked in a fragrant tomato sauce, mixed with a rice pilaf and garnished with Iranian sour barberries. Downed with a fresh lime soda and crème caramel, it’s hard not to indulge.
Most items on the menu today follow the original recipes of Kohinoor’s late wife, Bacha — and they remain a fiercely guarded secret.
A small black-and-white photo of Bacha hangs on the wall alongside the restaurant’s entrance. On the other side of the room is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II next to a painting of Gandhi. Several depictions of the Prophet Zoroaster, cloaked in white robes, are also on display. Each serves as a reminder of the cafe’s unique cultural heritage. Chicken berry pulao is the signature dish at Britannia & Co. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
Zoroastrians started arriving in India around 1,300 years ago to escape religious persecution from Arab invaders in their native Persia. By the mid-20th century, around 120,000 Parsis lived in India. Today there are less than half that. Zoroastrians don’t believe in conversion, making it hard to keep the religion alive.
But the more immediate problem for families like Kohinoor’s is a generational one.
Younger generations don’t want to inherit the long hours — and the risk of low returns — that come with running a restaurant.
“I’m only doing this for my dad,” admits Kohinoor’s 58-year-old son Romin, who has been working the register at Britannia & Co. for four decades. “He doesn’t want to close this place down. He doesn’t want to sell it at all.”
Romin has a 27-year-old daughter, Diana, who comes in at the end of each day to do the restaurant’s books.
She was studying law at university but didn’t really like it.
Now, “I would not want it to end because of me. So let’s take it forward,” she says.
But with her grandfather still going strong, her promotion from accountant to owner may be a while. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org. © 2019 New England Public Radio For assistance accessing our public files, please contact radio@nepr.net or call 413-735-6600

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Excellent stay

It is a lovely property with high class service . The view from my corner Junior suite (room no 107) was really magnificent . We could see nearly a 360 degree view of Ganges change direction from our room. The swimming pool location is very good overlooking the Ganges .. The evening ganga pooja /arti was very good. The pebble walk along Ganges was interesting . The food variety is very good with lot of local Himalayan cuisine . I feel it is the best resort and spa on the Indian hills . It also have potential to be one of the best in the world when the villas open shortly.. It is a place to go to and highly recommended . The most unfortunate part was that stayed for one night and found it difficult to leave such a good place. Will be back shortly…

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The 22 Hottest Peppers in the World

Posted by Guest Columnist | Jun 2, 2019 | Taste There’s a good chance you’ve come across a way too spicy pepper in your life. Maybe you sought it out; maybe it snuck up on you in a salsa. Either way, that fiery burn is seared in your memory.
But unless you’re an extreme heat seeker, that pepper you tried is far milder than the peppers that reach the top of the Scoville Scale. The Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) is a subjective scale used for measuring the spicy heat of peppers (and other hot foods). It’s a function of capsaicin concentration, though it’s not as accurate as the actual measurement of the capsaicin content of a pepper because it’s assessed empirically by panels of testers.
In ascending order, here’s how the hottest peppers in the world rank. (Fyi, we’ve blown right past the rather tame jalapeño.) 22. Madame Jeanette (225,000 SHU) ( via )
The Madame Jeanette hails from Suriname and is a lovely smooth, yellow pod that packs a surprising punch. Named for a prostitute from Paramaribo, it has neither fruity nor floral undertones — it’s just hot. The Madame Jeanette can commonly be found in traditional Suriname and Antillean cuisine, often tossed into dishes whole to add spice to every bite. 21. Scotch Bonnet (100,000-350,000 SHU) ( via )
The Scotch Bonnet is a Caribbean pepper, and it gets its name from a perceived resemblance to the Scottish Tam o’Shanter (those floppy plaid hats with the pom-poms on top). It has a little bit of sweet to go along with all that spicy and is most commonly found in hot Caribbean dishes like jerk chicken or jerk pork, though it crops up in recipes as far away as West Africa. They’re one of the main ingredients in the famous West Indian hot pepper sauces, which differ from country to country but can be found in almost every household in the Caribbean . 20. White Habanero (100,000-350,000 SHU) ( via )
The first of many varieties of the famed habanero to make the cut, the white is particularly rare and difficult to cultivate. These peppers grow on tiny bushes, but each one produces an exceptionally high yield. There’s some debate about whether they originated in Peru or Mexico (some people go so far as to differentiate between Peruvian White Habaneros and Yucatan White Habaneros), but regardless of their origins, these peppers can be found lending heat to traditional Mexican stews and salsas . Their influence has even extended out into the Caribbean, where they’re employed in sauces and marinades. 19. Habanero (100,000-350,000 SHU) ( via )
This habanero is the orange kind you can buy in the grocery store, but just because they’re readily available doesn’t mean they’re less vicious than any of their cousins on this list. Originating in the Amazon, this pepper was brought northward through Mexico (where most of them are grown now). The habanero is actually a different variety of the same species as the Scotch Bonnet, though it’s used more in Mexico than in the Caribbean, lending a fruity and floral kick to Yucatanian food. 18. Fatalii (125,000-325,000 SHU) ( via )
The first pepper on the list from the Eastern Hemisphere, the Fatalii is a chili from central and southern Africa . Brave souls claim that its flavor is notably citrusy (though how anybody can taste anything through that much burning is beyond me), and so it’s used largely in fruity hot sauces from its native Africa through the Caribbean. 17. Devil’s Tongue (125,000-325,000 SHU) ( via )
Similar in appearance to the Fatalii, and a member of the habanero family, the Devil’s Tongue was first discovered growing in Pennsylvania among its habanero relatives. Nobody’s quite sure where it originated or how it came to be growing in the field of an Amish farmer, but it’s become renowned for its bright, fruity, and sometimes slightly nutty taste. Because its past is a mystery, however, there are no real ‘traditional’ uses for the Devil’s Tongue — experts recommend eating them fresh in salsas or salads, if you can take the heat. 16. Tigerpaw NR (265,000 — 328,000 SHU) ( via )
This new type of habanero pepper was scientifically engineered, rather than naturally cultivated. The “NR” in the name signifies nematode resistance, as the US Department of Agriculture’s research division (ARS) developed this particular pepper plant to be resistant to root-knot nematodes, a parasite common to many pepper and tomato plants. Because of its distinctly unnatural upbringing, the Tigerpaw, like the Devil’s Tongue, lacks traditional use in cuisine. However, its similarity to the traditional orange habanero means it’s easily substituted in any of the multitude of habanero recipes used throughout Mexico. (Be cautious: It tends to pack a bigger burn than its more traditional relative.) 15. Chocolate Habanero (aka Congo Black) (300,000-425,000 SHU) ( via )
Chocolate Habaneros originated in Trinidad and in fact have absolutely nothing to do with the Congo. This one’s a favorite of many ‘chiliheads,’ who somehow remain conscious long enough to detect a rich, smoky flavor buried somewhere under all that heat. Chocolate habaneros have been dubbed the “ultimate salsa pepper,” though you’re more likely to find them in world-famous Jamaican jerk sauce. 14. Caribbean Red Habanero (300,000-475,000 SHU) ( via )
An upgraded version of the habanero, clocking in at almost twice the spice, this adorably small pepper approaches sinister levels of heat. Like many of the other contenders on this list, the Caribbean Red likely hails from the Amazon basin (though some argue for Yucatan origins) and is a staple in Mexican cooking, where it can be commonly found in salsas and hot sauces. More creative uses of the pepper include a guest appearance in “Caribbean Red Pepper Surprise” ice cream, though, according to one consumer, “The surprise is, your brain is on fire, and your taste-buds are in love, but your fillings have melted.” 13. Red Savina (200,000-577,000 SHU) ( via )
Yet another habanero cultivar, this bad boy’s been selectively bred for generations to produce larger, heavier, and spicier fruit — to give you some idea of where this list is headed, the Red Savina was the hottest pepper in the world from 1994 to 2006, and we’re not even halfway through. As a close relative of all the habanero peppers, the Red Savina shares the well-established Central American origin story but was developed further in California. 12. Naga Morich (aka Dorset Naga) (1,000,000-1,500,000 SHU) ( via )
Naga Morich means “serpent chili” in Bengali. Sister of the famed Ghost Pepper (yet to come), this beauty is native to northern India and Bangladesh, where it’s often eaten green (read: unripe) and raw, as a side dish. The Dorset Naga is a particular strain of the Naga Morich pepper that was selectively bred for maximum heat — the first pepper on earth to break one million SHU (double the rating of the Red Savina). Aside from mind-numbing heat, they also boast a fruity flavor; some claim to taste notes of orange and pineapple, but personally I find the idea of being able to taste anything amidst the mouth-fire highly suspect. 11. Trinidad Scorpion CARDI (800,000-1,000,000 SHU) ( via )
The Trinidad Scorpion gets its name from its homeland and its appearance; its Trinidadian origins are self-evident, as is the rest of it, once you get a look at one. They have a little stinger opposite the stem, which looks like the poisonous barb on the tail of a scorpion. The “CARDI” addendum stands for Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, the research group responsible for the breeding of this particular pepper. We’re now well within the ‘dangerously hot’ range, a fact further evidenced by the two main uses of the Trinidad Scorpion CARDI: firstly, in military-grade mace, and secondly, mixed in with marine paint to prevent barnacles from growing on the bottoms of boats. But I guess you could put it in your food if you really wanted to. 10. Bhut Jolokia Chocolate (800,000-1,001,304 SHU) ( via )
The Bhut Jolokia (aka Naga Jolokia) is more commonly known by its Americanized name, the Ghost Pepper. The chocolate variant of this pepper is a very rare naturally occurring permutation of the standard red and is named not only for its rich coloring but also for its notoriously sweet flavor. Don’t be fooled by the sweetness, though — it’s just as spicy as its red cousin, at over a million SHU. Native to India, the Ghost Pepper is responsible for some of the most brain-searing, tongue-sizzling curries and chutneys in the entire world. However, it’s also used in military weapons and smeared on fences to ward off stampeding elephants. 9. Bhut Jolokia (aka Ghost Pepper) (800,000-1,001,304 SHU) ( via )
There’s not much to be said here that hasn’t already been covered in the section about the Chocolate Ghost Pepper. The standard red variant of this pepper is much easier to find than the chocolate and is the fuel for restaurant challenges and idiotic YouTube videos worldwide. Fun fact: The Ghost Pepper is an inter-species hybrid between the species containing all of the habanero cultivars and the species containing the Tabasco pepper (of taco-sauce fame). 8. 7 Pot Chili (over 1,000,000 SHU) ( via )
The 7 Pot Chili gets its name from its alleged ability to provide enough spice for seven pots of stew, and at over a million SHU, I’m inclined to believe it. Unsurprisingly, this little demon is also from Trinidad, where evil peppers grow like weeds, and you’ll find it in many of the same dishes as the other Caribbean peppers in the habanero family — stews, marinades, and hot sauces. The 7 Pot (sometimes called the 7 Pod) displays all-over “pimpling,” a texture only found in the spiciest of peppers (appearing as though they’re boiling themselves from the inside out). 7. Gibraltar (aka Spanish Naga) (1,086,844 SHU) ( via )
The Spanish Naga is grown, of course, in Spain but was actually developed in the UK. Like the 7 Pot, this one’s so fiendishly spicy that its skin is bubbling and wrinkled, an effect probably exaggerated by the unique conditions under which it’s grown: The plants have to be kept indoors in enclosed plastic tunnels and subjected to blisteringly hot temperatures in order to churn out peppers that spicy. Since they’re largely man-made, there aren’t any traditional dishes that use the Gibraltar chili, but they’re available in Western Europe if you’re interested in concocting a curry and then never tasting anything again for the rest of your life. 6. Infinity Chili (1,176,182 SHU) ( via )
Most of the rest of the peppers on this list have been engineered by humans. I guess once we identified the hottest pepper in the world, all we could do from there was make them hotter ourselves. The Infinity Chili was engineered in the UK by breeder Nick Woods, but it only held the world record for two weeks before it was ousted by the next contender, the Naga Viper. Like the previous two, this pepper is red and wrinkly and shriveled and horrible looking — as would you be after eating it. 5. Naga Viper (1,382,118 SHU) ( via )
Nature never intended this pepper to exist. It’s so strange, so very unholy in its spiciness, that the plants can’t actually produce offspring exactly like the parent. Okay, fine, it’s not because it’s an evil abomination — it’s an unstable three-way genetic hybrid between the Naga Morich, the Bhut Jolokia, and the Trinidad Scorpion, which can’t naturally incorporate the genes from all three breeds into its seeds. If you want to grow it, you have to get the seeds from its human creator, Gerald Fowler (and the waiting list is several thousand people long). 4. 7 Pod Douglah (aka Chocolate 7 Pot) (923,000-1,853,396 SHU) ( via )
The mean sister of the 7 Pot Chili, the Douglah (also known as the Chocolate 7 Pot) is characterized by heavily textured dark brown or even purple skin. This pepper comes agonizingly close to 2 million SHU — so one would imagine flavor is the last thing anyone’s thinking about as they’re lying on the floor, weeping — and yet, many say the Douglah is one of the most deliciously flavorful peppers, with a full-bodied fruitiness unmatched by others of its spice level. Hailing from Trinidad, land of the brutal pepper, this variety can be found in many of the same dishes as the other Caribbean contenders. 3. Trinidad Scorpion Butch T (1,463,700 SHU) ( via )
This cultivar of the Trinidad Scorpion is the pride and joy of Butch Taylor, owner of Zydeco Hot Sauce in Mississippi. Tiny, red, and sinister, this pepper has a little stinger on the end, characteristic of the scorpion peppers. The Scorpion Butch T is so spicy you have to wear safety gear to cook with it (that means masks, gloves, full-body suits — the works), and cooks have claimed numbness in their hands for up to two days afterwards. 2. Trinidad Moruga Scorpion (2,009,231 SHU) ( via )
The Moruga Scorpion, the first pepper ever to break 2 million SHU, held the world record for spiciness for several years and hails from, you guessed it, Trinidad. Each fruit is about the size of a golf ball and contains as much capsaicin as 25 milliliters of police-grade pepper spray. This is the spiciest naturally occurring pepper known to man, but, like the Douglah, it’s also famously fruity and flavorful. Fans recommend adding a small amount to any dish for an explosion of flavor, as well as the endorphin rush that accompanies the consumption of something that spicy. 1. Carolina Reaper (1,569,383-2,200,000 SHU) ( via )
This is it. The big one. The grand emperor of spicy peppers. The Carolina Reaper claimed its crown in November of 2013 as the spiciest pepper of all time, blowing the Moruga Scorpion’s measly 2 million SHU away by over 200,000 units. And it’s one nasty-looking pepper, fully equipped with the texture and scorpion tail of the Trinidadian heavyweights, though it lacks the natural heritage of the Moruga Scorpion. The Reaper was engineered in South Carolina by Ed Currie, owner of PuckerButt Pepper Co. They have a whole line of Reaper-based merch available on their website, if you’re brave. Personally, I like the taste of food, so I have to pass. What can I say? I fear the Reaper.
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Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing

Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing By Rebecca Rosman • 10 hours ago Boman Kohinoor, 97, has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved Britannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes. Here, he proudly holds up a photo of himself with two members of the British royal family: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and the former Kate Middleton. Rebecca Rosman for NPR / Originally published on June 2, 2019 11:55 am
The brown walls are peeling at all ends. Giant paint chips cake the ceiling. And the cash register — if you can call it that — is just a series of old wooden drawers.
“I’m going to put up a sign that says ‘Enter at your own risk.’ Otherwise someone is going to hold me liable,” says Romin Kohinoor, one of the owners of the nearly century-oldBritannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafes.
Luckily for Kohinoor, these quirky interiors have long been seen as more of an attraction than a liability.
Parsi cafes like Britannia & Co. started popping up around Mumbai in the late 19th century. They were founded by Parsis — Zoroastrians who fled religious persecution in their native Persia. The cafes became popular among many in India because, in a society where caste systems and long-standing taboos remain omnipresent, these cafes offered a place where various parts of Indian society mingled freely.
They are, in a word, cosmopolitan. They are also, in two words, dying out.
One of the world’s oldest religions, Zoroastrianism began thousands of years ago in what is now Iran, and the faith predates Islam. A central ethical tenet of the faith is to promote “good words, good thoughts and good deeds.” The Zoroastrian migrants brought to India not only their religious traditions but also their unique cuisine, offering a table to people of all classes, religions and ethnicities in an atmosphere scented with Iranian and Gujarati spices. Parsi cafes are emblems of tolerance, a core teaching of the Prophet Zoroaster, and their affordable food and snug tables attest to their place as servers of the common man.
At one point, there were around 400 Parsi cafes scattered across Mumbai. Today, there are less than 40.
A dwindling Parsi population, combined with little interest from newer generations to take over these family-owned businesses, means that there may not be any Parsi cafes in just a few decades.
But Britannia & Co. has a secret to standing strong amid a sea of dying neighbors: the 97-year-old owner, Boman Kohinoor, who has spent the past eight decades committed to his beloved cafe. On one wall of Britannia & Co. is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Next to her is a painting of Gandhi. Each serves as a reminder of the cafe’s unique cultural heritage. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
“They say habit is second nature,” the bespectacled owner tells me over a generous plate of chicken berry pulao, the restaurant’s signature dish. “And habit has kept me coming here every day now for the last 80 years.”
Every day during the busy lunch hour, Kohinoor slowly makes his way around each table to partake in one of his favorite activities: schmoozing. Current favorite topics include the British monarchy, U.S. politics and his longevity plans. (He plans on breaking the Guinness World Record for oldest living person.)
India was still under British rule when Kohinoor’s father opened the cafe in 1923, which inspired the cafe’s name. “My father wanted to please the local commissioner, who was handing out leases at the time,” says Kohinoor.
When the restaurant opened, the menu consisted mostly of lighter European fare. It wasn’t until after independence from the British in 1947 that Kohinoor decided to revamp the menu, adding a slew of Iranian comfort food options that have since become the favorites here — dishes like sali boti, a lamb curry stewed with tomatoes, jaggery and onions and topped with fried potato strings.
Or the chicken berry pulao — moist chunks of chicken cooked in a fragrant tomato sauce, mixed with a rice pilaf and garnished with Iranian sour barberries. Downed with a fresh lime soda and crème caramel, it’s hard not to indulge.
Most items on the menu today follow the original recipes of Kohinoor’s late wife, Bacha — and they remain a fiercely guarded secret.
A small black-and-white photo of Bacha hangs on the wall alongside the restaurant’s entrance. On the other side of the room is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II next to a painting of Gandhi. Several depictions of the Prophet Zoroaster, cloaked in white robes, are also on display. Each serves as a reminder of the cafe’s unique cultural heritage. Chicken berry pulao is the signature dish at Britannia & Co. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
Zoroastrians started arriving in India around 1,300 years ago to escape religious persecution from Arab invaders in their native Persia. By the mid-20th century, around 120,000 Parsis lived in India. Today there are less than half that. Zoroastrians don’t believe in conversion, making it hard to keep the religion alive.
But the more immediate problem for families like Kohinoor’s is a generational one.
Younger generations don’t want to inherit the long hours — and the risk of low returns — that come with running a restaurant.
“I’m only doing this for my dad,” admits Kohinoor’s 58-year-old son Romin, who has been working the register at Britannia & Co. for four decades. “He doesn’t want to close this place down. He doesn’t want to sell it at all.”
Romin has a 27-year-old daughter, Diana, who comes in at the end of each day to do the restaurant’s books.
She was studying law at university but didn’t really like it.
Now, “I would not want it to end because of me. So let’s take it forward,” she says.
But with her grandfather still going strong, her promotion from accountant to owner may be a while. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Mumbai, India, has been at the crossroads of cultures for millennia. In the 19th century, refugees from Iran fleeing religious persecution opened what came to be called Parsi cafes. At one point, there were 400 of them. Today, there are fewer than 40. Rebecca Rosman visited one of the last Parsi cafes.
REBECCA ROSMAN, BYLINE: The first thing you notice when you walk into Britannia & Co., one of Mumbai’s most popular Parsi cafes, is that the place is kind of falling apart. Giant paint chips cake the ceiling. The brown walls are peeling. And the cash register, if you can call it that, is just a series of old wooden drawers.
ROMIN KOHINOOR: Very old-fashioned, very old-fashioned, see. And I don’t want to change it because I’ve got so used to it.
ROSMAN: Fifty-eight-year-old Romin Kohinoor has been working behind this register for four decades.
R KOHINOOR: This is my grandfather’s counter bell.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
R KOHINOOR: It’s 98 years old, and it is made from British gun metal. See the echo. See the echo.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
R KOHINOOR: Even the restaurant is very old-fashioned – 96 years old. It’s all peeling out. It’s all dropping. I’m going to put up a board now that you enter at own risk because if something happens, somebody’ll hold me liable.
ROSMAN: Luckily for Kohinoor, these quirky interiors are seen as more of an attraction than a liability and so is the food – Iranian comfort food. One of the most popular menu items is a dish called chicken berry pulao – a rice pilaf topped with moist chunks of chicken and stewed in a fragrant tomato sauce, garnished with sour barberries, giving the dish a sweet and sour punch, and served with fresh lime soda. But one of the biggest draws here is the owner.
BOMAN KOHINOOR: I come here every day from 12 o’clock till 4:30. I have been coming here now nearly about 80 years.
ROSMAN: That’s Romin’s 97-year-old father Boman Kohinoor. Boman’s father opened the restaurant in 1923. But every day since Boman was about 16, the chattier Kohinoor has slowly made his way around each table to partake in one of his favorite activities – schmoozing. Today’s topics for the endearing owner include Hillary Clinton, the British monarchy and his longevity plans.
B KOHINOOR: You know, the oldest man in the world, he died one year ago. How old was he? One hundred Forty-Six.
ROSMAN: One hundred forty-six.
ROSMAN: Oh, in Indonesia.
B KOHINOOR: Indonesia – I’m going to break his record.
ROSMAN: Kohinoor’s great-grandparents came to Mumbai more than 180 years ago after fleeing religious persecution from the dominant religion in Persia – Islam. They were Zoroastrians, one of the oldest religions in the world, founded on three main principles.
B KOHINOOR: Good thoughts, good words and good deeds.
ROSMAN: The hundreds of thousands of Zoroastrians who fled to India became known as Parsis. And in the 19th century, many started opening up these cafes. Now most are gone.
B KOHINOOR: In another 20 years or 30 years, there won’t be none.
ROSMAN: The Parsi population is dwindling. Today in India, there are just over 60,000 Parsis. You have to be born into the religion. Zoroastrians don’t believe in conversion. But the more immediate problem for families like Kohinoor’s is a generational one. Younger people don’t want to inherit the long hours and risk of low returns that come with running a restaurant. Even Boman’s 58-year-old son Romin Kohinoor admits he is only helping to keep the business going for one reason.
R KOHINOOR: I’m doing this only for my dad. He doesn’t want to close this place down. He doesn’t want to sell it out. I’m doing it just for him.
ROSMAN: Romin has a 27-year-old daughter Diana. She comes in at the end of each day to do the restaurant’s books, a job that requires a computer, meaning it’s too techie for anyone else in the family. Diana was studying law at university but didn’t really like it. I asked if she would have any interest in taking over the family business.
DIANA KOHINOOR: I would like to because we make good money out here. It’s like a set business. It’s there since 1923, and I would not want it to end because of me. So let’s take it ahead – forward.
ROSMAN: But with her grandfather still going strong, her promotion from accountant to owner may take a while.
For NPR News, I’m Rebecca Rosman in Mumbai. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR. KSUT Content Partners

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Reasons to Settle Down in Trinidad & Tobago

Reasons to Settle Down in Trinidad & Tobago Reasons to Settle Down in Trinidad & Tobago 0
Trinidad & Tobago is a dual-island country with a long history of settlers that came from the Middle East. Trinidad is the more populous and larger of the two islands and is known to throw the biggest and coolest Carnival party. However, this Caribbean nation still remains a mystery and witnesses a huge influx of tourists throughout the year who visit the twin island country to immerse in the untamed, idyllic, under-developed and cosmopolitan Caribbean life found here. Now, there are lots of reasons to be happy when living on the twin island and some of them are given below.
Delicious food
The diversity and taste of Trinidad & Tobago’s local cuisine are simply unmatched anywhere in the Caribbean. With culinary influences from Africa, Europe and Asia, the local gastronomy is a melting pot of delicious, exotic flavours. Since about 40% of the Trinidadian population being East Indian, the majority of local dishes feature curry spices like, turmeric and cumin. From delicious seafood to spicy preparation of meat, every day will be a feast for you when living in this twin-island nation.
The gorgeous beach
When you settle down and start living on the island, it is understandable that you might get caught up with school or work. You might not even be able to appreciate life when things become too hectic. Fortunately, you can simply hop to your car and drive to the nearest beach whenever you feel like unwinding and relaxing. It can be in the middle of the day or even after working tirelessly for an entire week. Irrespective of where you choose to live in Trinidad & Tobago, the beach is never too far away. You can always find some sand to relax and sip your favourite drink whilst looking at the mesmerising wide expanse of water in front of you.
Diverse inhabitants
As is mentioned before, the twin-island nation is a place where various ethnicities integrate into a unique Trinbagonian culture. The place offers the richness of mixed societies and people who understand that it is the difference that makes the nation special. So, when you are living here, you will be amongst people who respect each other and live as a family.
Vibrant celebrations
Only within a course of one year, you can celebrate Islamic, Hindu and Christian festivals, along with participating in special events like, Phagwa, Carnival, Emancipation Day, Easter, Indian Arrival Day, Independence Day, Republic Day and so many others. There are lots of holidays on the twin island nations and the locals really know how to have fun and enjoy life. Your life on the island will be anything, but boring. There will always be some kind of celebration to brighten up your week or day.
Breathtaking surroundings
The natural surroundings of the twin-island are incredibly stunning. During the spring season, you will be surrounded by yellow or pink blossoms amidst the greenery. Also, there are trees that pop out randomly in bursts of orange or flaming red in the lush forests along the mountain range. The sight is absolutely spectacular. You will even wake up to the beautiful sounds of a wide variety of birds. There is just so much beauty all around the island that even if you came to the island for just a short visit, you would not want to leave.
So, it can be said that Trinidad & Tobago is a great place to settle down if you truly want to live a relaxed and enjoyable life. The island also has medical and educational facilities, along with employment opportunities, ensuring that you have a great life. However, in order to settle down properly, you will need to send your prized belongings to the island and for shipping to Trinidad & Tobago, you will need to hire a shipping company that specialises in relocation and shipping services. Make sure that the company provides insurance. W.I Freight is the go-to company when it comes to shipping to Trinidad & Tobago. The company has over 5 decades of experience in shipping barrels to moving cars to the Caribbean. They guarantee to deliver prized belongings safely to the desired destination at affordable rates. Rate this Article

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Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing

Parsi Cafes, A Centuries-Old Tradition In India, Are Vanishing By Rebecca Rosman • 39 minutes ago Boman Kohinoor, 97, has spent the last eight decades committed to his beloved Britannia and Co, one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafés. Here, he proudly holds up a photo of himself with two members of the British royal family: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and the former Kate Middleton. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
The brown walls are peeling at all ends. Giant paint chips cake the ceiling. And the cash register — if you can call it that — is just a series of old wooden drawers.
“I’m going to put up a sign that says enter at your own risk, otherwise someone is going to hold me liable,” says Romin Kohinoor, one of the owners of the nearly century-oldBritannia and Co., one of Mumbai’s last Parsi cafés.
Luckily for Kohinoor, these quirky interiors have long been seen as more of an attraction than a liability.
Parsi cafés like Britannia and Co. started popping up around Mumbai in the late 19th century. They were founded by Parsis — Zoroastrians who fled religious persecution in their native Persia. But they became popular among many in India because, in a society where caste systems and longstanding taboos remain omnipresent, these cafes offered a place where various parts of Indian society mingled freely.
They are, in a word, cosmopolitan. They are also, in two words, dying out.
One of the world’s oldest religions, Zoroastrianism began thousands of years ago in what is now Iran and pre-dates Islam. A central ethical tenet of the faith is to promote “good words, good thoughts and good deeds.” The Zoroastrian migrants brought to India not only their religious traditions but also their unique cuisine, offering a table to people of all classes, religions and ethnicities in an atmosphere scented with Iranian and Gujarati spices. Parsi cafes are emblems of tolerance, a core teaching of the prophet Zoroaster, and their affordable food and snug tables attest to their place as servers of the common man.
At one point, there were around 400 Parsi cafés scattered across Mumbai. Today, there are less than 40.
A dwindling Parsi population, combined with little interest from newer generations to take over these family-owned businesses, means that there may not be any Parsi cafés in just a few decades.
But Britannia and Co. has a secret to standing strong amidst a sea of dying neighbors: the 97-year-old owner, Boman Kohinoor, who has spent the last eight decades committed to his beloved café. On one wall of Britannia and Co. is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Next to her is a painting of Gandhi. Each serves as a reminder of the café’s unique cultural heritage. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
“They say habit is second nature,” the bespectacled owner tells me over a generous plate of chicken berry pulao, the restaurant’s signature dish. “And habit has kept me coming here every day now for the last 80 years.”
Every day during the busy lunch hour, Kohinoor slowly makes his way around each table to partake in one of his favorite activities: schmoozing. Current favorite topics include the British monarchy, U.S. politics and his longevity plans. (He plans on breaking the Guinness World Record for oldest living person.)
India was still under British rule when Kohinoor’s father opened the café in 1923, which inspired the café’s name. “My father wanted to please the local commissioner, who was handing out leases at the time,” says Kohinoor.
When the restaurant opened, the menu consisted mostly of lighter, European fare. It wasn’t until after independence from the British in 1947 that Kohinoor decided to revamp the menu, adding in a slew of Iranian comfort food options that have since become the favorites here — dishes like Sali Boti , a lamb curry stewed with tomatoes, jaggery and onions, topped with fried potato strings.
Or the chicken berry pulao — moist chunks of chicken cooked in a fragrant tomato sauce, mixed with a rice pilaf and garnished with Iranian sour barberries. Downed with a fresh lime soda and crème caramel, it’s hard not to indulge.
Most items on the menu today follow the original recipes of Kohinoor’s late wife, Bacha — and they remain a fiercely guarded secret.
A small black and white photo of Bacha hangs on the wall alongside the restaurant’s entrance. On the other side of the room is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, next to a painting of Gandhi. Several depictions of the Prophet Zoroaster, cloaked in white robes, are also on display. Each serves as a reminder of the café’s unique cultural heritage. Chicken berry pulao is the signature dish at Britannia and Co. Rebecca Rosman for NPR
Zoroastrians started arriving in India around 1,300 years ago to escape religious persecution from Arab invaders in their native Persia. By the mid-20th century, there were around 120,000 Parsis living in India. Today there are less than half that. Zoroastrians don’t believe in conversion, making it hard to keep the religion alive.
But the more immediate problem for families like Kohinoor’s is a generational one.
Younger generations don’t want to inherit the long hours — and the risk of low returns — that come with running a restaurant.
“I’m only doing this for my dad,” admits Kohinoor’s 58-year-old son Romin, who has been working the register at Britannia and Co. for four decades. “He doesn’t want to close this place down. He doesn’t want to sell it at all.”
Romin has a 27-year-old daughter, Diana, who comes in at the end of each day to do the restaurant’s books.
She was studying law at university, but didn’t really like it.
Now, “I would not want it to end because of me. So let’s take it forward,” she says.
But with her grandfather still going strong, her promotion from accountant to owner may be a while. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org. © 2019 WFIT

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